The Beast with Five Fingers (1946)

“Your flesh will creep … AT THE HAND THAT CRAWLS!” Okay, so The Beast with Five Fingers morphs from a creepy low-budget horror flick to more of a mystery/suspense thriller and the ending is kind of hackneyed–it’s still worth your time if only for the premise of a severed hand crawling around a gloomy mansion murdering guests, some nice special effects and the unforgettably deranged performance of Peter Lorre. As “Hilary Cummins,” Lorre portrays the personal secretary of “Francis Ingram” (Victor Francen), a slightly insane, wheelchair-bound concert pianist who lives in the crumbling estate outside a small Italian village during the late 19th century. After Ingram dies under mysterious circumstances, strange things start to happen in the mansion such as the piano playing by itself, followed by a murder–and all signs point to the pianist’s severed hand as the culprit! The competent cast includes Robert Alda as “Bruce Conrad,” Andrea King as “Julie Holden,” J. Carrol Naish as “Commissario Ovidio Casanio,” Charles Dingle as “Raymond Arlington,” John Alvin as “Donald Arlington” and David Hoffman as “Duprex.” Directed by Robert Florey and scripted by Curt Siodmak (The Wolf Man), the film was based on a short story by W. F. Harvey. The hand of legendary Hungarian pianist Ervin Nyiregyhazi (1903-87) was shown playing the piano. Alda also starred in the cheapie 1962 horror flick, The Devil’s Hand, which was directed by William J. Hole Jr. and featured the tagline, “This is the Hand of Terror!”

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